Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/330

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THE story of the man-of-war Wager was by no means finished when young Midshipman Byron rode into London and was welcomed as one risen from the dead. It will be recalled that about twenty of the crew persisted in the attempt to sail homeward by way of the Strait of Magellan. They had been at sea only a few days when the cutter, the smaller of their two boats, was knocked to pieces among the rocks, and the survivors were therefore jammed into the long-boat, which had room for no more than half of them. How they managed to stay afloat is a mystery that cannot be fathomed, with the gunwales only a few inches above water and scarcely any space to row or steer or handle sail. They quarreled continually, and "hardly ten testified any anxiety about the welfare of the voyage but rather seemed ripe for mutiny and destruction." Eleven of the company soon preferred to quit this madhouse of a boat and to face a less turbulent death ashore, and at their own request they were landed on the coast of Patagonia.